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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings

Mary Visits Elizabeth II

Submitted by on Monday, 21 December 2009No Comment


This year, we read Luke’s account of Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth twice in succession.  We read the account as the gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C).  But it is also the selection for December 21 in the December 17-24 Advent weekday readings.  In the Sunday reading for Advent, I wrote about Mary visiting Elizabeth as a figure for the Church which brings Christ to those who wait for Him.  The reading presented with Hebrews 10:5-10, which is a midrash on Psalm 40, about the Son’s obedience to the Father and the Incarnation as that which made it possible for the once-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  One can also see in Elizabeth a type of the Church which recognizes the voice of the one who brings the Good News.  The Church evangelizes, but she is also the one evangelized.

The key for this understanding of the passage is the reading from the Song of Songs which depicts the bride recognizing the voice of her Beloved from afar.  In the Lucan narrative, two persons perceive the voice that brings peace:  Elizabeth and the yet unborn John the Baptist.  The bringer of the Good News utters a greeting that also brings with it the Holy Spirit.  It is through the working of this Spirit that the hearers recognize Jesus brought to them in the womb of Mary.

There are two elements in the account that one can reflect on: the Word of God enfleshed in the womb of Mary and the Holy Spirit. Word and Breath come together. Already in the beginning of Genesis, we find both: the Word that is uttered and the Spirit poised over the murky waters of the tohuwabohu. From creation to the work of redemption, we find both the Word and the Spirit coming together: the Word of God made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth is experienced as “Salvation” in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the picture of Elizabeth welcoming Mary, we find the Church welcoming the Word of God into her home, allowing herself to be filled up by the Spirit.

The Church cannot only be evangelizer; she must be continually evangelized. She receives the Word of God from apostolic preaching, the Scriptures and especially from the Liturgy where she meets the Lord who always makes Himself present:

“where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Hebrews 10:5-10
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5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me:
6Holocausts for sin did not please thee.
7Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God.
8In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin thou wouldest not, neither are they pleasing to thee, which are offered according to the law.
9Then said I: Behold, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth.
10In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once.

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